At least three and perhaps all of the 15-man crew of a merchant vessel that sank last week while being held by Somali pirates are alive, according to their families.
The Malaysian-flagged MV Albedo container ship, seized by Somali pirates in November 2010, sank last week in rough seas a short distance offshore from the pirate-held town of Hobyo on central Somalia's Indian Ocean coast, according to the Associated Press.
Although initially the crew were feared drowned, three have since been allowed to call their families, saying that 11 in total of the crew are alive and four more are unaccounted for.
Begging for their release, families called on the pirates to let surviving crewmembers go, saying that now that the boat has sunk its owners have no interest in paying ransom for its release. The pirates initially said the crew had drowned, but lifeboats from the Albedo were later spotted onshore.
However, it is understood that the sailors were transferred to another pirated vessel, a fishing boat called FV Nahem 3, which is tethered to the sunken hulk of the Albedo.
John Steed, head of an internationally-backed liaison body, the Secretariat for Regional Maritime Security, said the crew and pirates on the Nahem are also in danger of sinking.